London Beer Week is coming to town from Monday 13th-Sunday 19th March. Organised by Drink Up London (the people behind London Wine Week and London Cocktail Week), there is everything from keg parties to pop-ups, brewery tours to supper clubs. Official London Beer Week information can be found here (you’ll need to get tickets) and below is our pick of London’s best places for craft beer, from bottle shop to brewery.
Small South London Brewery
Operating from a railway arch in Brixton, Brixton Brewery is one of the newest to London’s craft beer scene, hand crafting beer in small batches and delivering much of it by hand to local shops and restaurants. They’re so loyal to their community that their limited edition Effra Ale used hops grown less than 1km away and they supply Wahaca Brixton with an exclusive Lúpulo Ale. Plus, most of their names are locally inspired; Effra Ale, Electric I.P.A. and Windrush Stout all nod to the area. Sign up for a evening tour or swing by on Saturday from 12pm-6pm to chat to the guys and try the fruits of their labour.
Beer Inspired Food Menu
Kentish Towners are lucky to count Camden’s Daughter as a local. The beer and snack bar constantly has 13 taps of beer and a fully stocked fridge of cans to work your way through from Camden Town Brewery – the ‘mother’ brewery – as well as a selection of breweries across the UK. They do a tempting selection of food too, from beer can BBQ chicken to chocolate brownie soft serve ice cream topped with Flake, Crunchie or gummy bears.
The Craft Beer Co’s name does most of the talking. With bars in Clerkenwell, St. Mary Axe, Brixton and beyond, they boast 155 keg lines, 79 cask pumps and over 200 bottles and cans. In fact, within a year of opening their first site in Clerkenwell back in 2011, it was awarded Best Bar in the UK on RateBeer and maintains the same inviting pub atmosphere to this day.
Drinks List as Good as the Food
A restaurant’s drinks menu can often feel like an afterthought but at Smokehouse Islington it gets as much care and attention as the edible stuff. The beer list has a whopping 40 bottles to choose from and 20 on tap from London, the UK, Belgium, Germany and beyond. It goes without saying that the food is sourced with a similar quality-driven mindset, delivered daily (fish) and rotating weekly (meat).
Craft Beer and Pizza
Crate Brewery is on the more inviting end of the brewery spectrum, with a huge open bar and pizzeria area the perfect weekend spot. The brewery itself operates tours of behind the scenes areas and the chance to try their range including Crate lager, pale ale and I.P.A. whilst the bar serves hand-rolled, stone-baked pizzas and a range of guest beers. If you really are serious about beer then you may also like to know that the Brew-Shed can be hired for private events.
Specialist Brixton Bottle Shop
Brixton isn’t just a place for foodies. It’s a hub for craft beer lovers too. Ghost Whale is a craft beer bottle shop and taproom which sells a huge selection beers from Brixton, Herne Hill and beyond. The central counter is ideal for perching at, and the fully stocked fridges round the edge of the room are not only a lesson in packaging design but inviting enough that you can help yourself to one you fancy, pay at the counter then drink it there and then. Maybe grab a few to take home too…
North London Brewery
Recognisable for their punky illustrated cans, Beavertown began life in 2011 in North London’s De Beauvoir Town (see the similarities in the name…?). Beavertown HQ is now in Tottenham Hale and although a vast, fully-functioning brewery hosts open days in their taproom complete with street food from KERB’s Capish. Try their classic Gamma Ray American Pale Ale as well as the more experimental collaborations and seasonal creations.
Craft Beer Pioneers
BrewDog have done it all; brewed a beer at the bottom of the ocean, poured beer from taxidermy and even had their own TV show in the US but we know them best for their bars across London and their five Headliners; Punk IPA, Dead Pony Club, 5am Saint, Kingpin and Jet Black Heart which pretty much kickstarted the craft beer revolution. Camden is the original London bar but they now have Brewdog’s in Clapham Junction, Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Soho but if you fancy a tour you’ll have to head to their state of the art eco brewery in Scotland.
Traditional Pub With Great Beers
The Earl of Essex is a traditional pub with a real passion towards great beer. Islington’s first brewpub, it’s also home to Earl’s Brewery and serves a constantly changing menu of local and international beers. Food matches up to the beer so you can make a day of it, and visit in summer to soak up the sun in the pub’s beer garden.
Battersea was blessed with Sambrook’s Brewery in 2008, masterminded by a former Deloitte accountant. Thankfully as good with beer as he is with numbers, it churns out keg, cask and bottled beers and has just opened a brewery shop and bar which is open to the public from Thursday to Saturday. They also offer tours and private venue hire, with tours starting at 7pm on the first and third Wednesday of every month. Meet the founder, Duncan Sambrook and explore the tap room and brewery itself.
Friends Dave and Tom taught themselves how to brew in 2011. An experimental approach led to subtle variations in the production of each beer and the Brew By Numbers concept was born, celebrated with a beer-fuelled launch party at The Craft Beer Co. in Clerkenwell. The minimalist labels are functional as well as attractive – 08|02, for example, means a second recipe stout, with 08 standing for the style and 02 for the recipe. The brewery is open Friday evenings and Saturday all day for visitors to drink their new creations on site or take away and drink later. Look out for foodie events and beer collaborations in the taproom throughout the year.
New and Improved Brewery Bar
Camden Town Brewery actually began off the back of a pub in Hampstead. Owner Jasper began playing around with brewing and created Mac’s beer back in 2007 before moving things over to a proper brewery in Kentish Town: Hells lager was born, so-called as it’s a cross between Helles and Pilsner. The brewery is open for tours so you can see it all and they’re about to open a brand spanking new brewery in Enfield. The Camden Brewery Bar has just been done up so it’s bigger and even better. Keep an eye out for their keg parties too, when they sell off cheap beer from their fairy lit mews yard.
Draft House are the group behind local pub/bars such as Charlotte W1, Birdcage E2 and Northcote SW11. Beer is passionately sourced with up to 20 on draft at any one time, and more than 50 bottled. They put the same passion into their food and so have the ideal bar snack accompaniments – the likes of Scotch eggs, chilli squid, burgers and foot-long scratchings.
- CERU have joined up with the Wiltshire based Hop Kettle Brewery to create their own CERU Pale Ale to go with their Levantine cuisine – it’s perfect with their slow-roasted lamb shoulder which comes in a secret blend of twelve shawarma spices.
- As part of London Beer Week, The Capital Hotel’s Head Chef, Tom Brown, and Sharp’s Brewery’s Beer Sommelier, Ed Hughes, have created a special menu for beer novices and connoisseurs alike; a unique experience where beer meets Michelin-starred seafood.
- German Gymnasium have a beer inspired menu available throughout March with the likes of beetroot cured salmon and beer ponzu and ice beer marinated 28 days dry aged Scotch beef fillet being served.
- Between the 13th and 17th March, Plateau will be serving dishes such as dark ale braised beef cheek ravioli and a Pale Ale pulled pork burger. You can also go for a beer pairing so you can try the likes of London Porter, London Pale Ale and a raspberry wheat beer.